• An individual's social circle typically contain five different "layers", according to a new study. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
New data has shown humans are only capable of having five real close friends. So you might want to choose your #squad wisely (we’re looking at you, Taylor Swift).
By
Jody Phan

6 May 2016 - 12:38 PM  UPDATED 6 May 2016 - 12:38 PM

Renowned British anthropologist Robin Dunbar previously developed the theory suggesting that the average human can maintain around 150 meaningful social relationships due to brain size, attention span and time needed to nurture these relationships. This figure became known as Dunbar’s number.

Now the Oxford University researcher is back to elaborate on his findings, suggesting that of those 150 relationships, a person can only count five of of them as their “best” friends.

The data also showed that extroverts may appear to have more friends than introverts, both groups  still have four “core” friends and the same number of friendship groups.

According to Dunbar, there are “layers” to an individual’s social circles. The first layer consists of our five closest friends. The next layer has 10 slightly less close friendships, followed by the next group of 35 close acquaintances and finally 100 acquaintances.

The data was collected by a team of researchers including Dunbar through six billion phone calls between 35 million people in a European country made in 2007.

They looked at people who made reciprocated phone calls to approximately 100 people and the frequency of these calls.

The new findings show the layers suggested by Dunbar did indeed exist, however, they were slightly smaller than he first hypothesised. Individuals on average had 4.1 close friends, 11.0 on the next level, 29.8 on the next level, and 128.9 on the final level.

According to Dunbar, there are “layers” to an individual’s social circles.

“These numbers are a little smaller than the conventional numbers for Dunbar layers, but within their natural range of variation,” the researchers concluded.

The data also showed that extroverts may appear to have more friends than introverts, both groups still have four “core” friends and the same number of friendship groups.

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